Vertebrate pests belong to the phylum Chordata and are easily identified if seen, but in general damage will be present and the animal will not. The most common vertebrate pests are birds, rodents (such as voles and rabbits), and deer. Birds generally attack ripe fruit; damage from pecking lowers marketability and leads to secondary entry of pathogens and insects. However, some birds feed on fruit buds as well. Damage by rodents such as voles leads to girdling of seedlings and young trees and damage to roots, while damage by rabbits includes feeding on buds and gnawing on bark as well as clipping off small branches. Most damage occurs in winter when other food sources are scarce. Browsing by deer also can be most damaging in the winter. The most susceptible trees include dwarf, semidwarf, and young standard trees. Trees may be stunted and fruit production may be affected by browsing on terminal and fruit buds.
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